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Date: April 6th 1917
Georgina Mercer (Emery's Aunt)
Corporal Alan Emery

[transcription and footnotes have been provided by the collection donor]


My dear Auntie,

Have received you nice letter of March 1st and must apologize for not having written you before, but have had some very stressful times[61] recently one way and another.

Thanks for your good wishes, wish I could meet you to thank you personally.  Have heard quite a lot from home of Rich and his visit to "115"[62] and believe he got on very well with Denis[63].  One could not help but do so though; he is fine kid.  Wonder if you have heard that he will soon be in the Army.  In fact he went up to interview a C.O.[64] on Tuesday last, but have not yet heard the result.  He is trying hard for the cavalry and I hope he gets it.  He has a fairly good recommendation from a local gentleman[65] I believe.  Don't think Mother thinks much of it, but what Mother could?  Rich is still in England I understand.  In case you did not get my letter, I will again thank you for the photo in the Xmas card you sent, they are great absolutely.

Yes, the weather in France has been very severe this winter.  About a month ago I came out of hospital, after a 3 weeks stay there with measles, but am feeling myself again now, and am back with my unit[66].  Yes I have met quite a number of Canadians and in fact I am working with two now.

What do you think of the news lately[67].  Expect you get a sight of English papers don't you.

Am hoping to get a leave again sometime within the next 3 or 4 months, but the allotment  is very slow.[68]  I was home in June last, and it seems like years.  Have been out here nearly two years now, with only a fortnight at home on leave.  Shall be very glad when it is all over, as I believe is everybody's wish.

Do you hear from Mother or Father at all.  Expect a lot of letters do go astray.  It is a shame, but I suppose alls fair in love and war, am only going by heresay, because I don't know much about "love".  Can hear you saying "I don't think", which is a true English saying, perhaps you have not heard it expressed before.  Still the world is so small, that you might have done.  Now I hope you will excuse all this scribble.  Wish I had more news for you, but seeing I haven't perhaps you will excuse more this time, so will close.  Hoping you are all quite well and keeping cheery under the circumstances; kindly remember me to Uncle Will[69] & Raymond, and with very best love to yourself.

I am, you loving Nephew, Alan
A.J. Emery (87846)

[61]  The major French offensive known as the Nivelle Offensive was an on-going disaster and start of the Battle of Arras with the pending battle for Vimy Ridge was about to occur.  All this follows the terrible losses from the Battle of the Somme in mid-1916.
[62]  "115" Cpl. Alan Emery's parent's house in Watford, Hertshire in England. The visit was an unrecorded short-term leave from Camp Crowborough in Sussex to the Liverpool area at least one month prior to March 1, 1917.  There is no notation of this leave in the current records.
[63]  It is currently believed is Pte.  R. W. Mercer left for France on or about April 15, 1917 and was part of the allotment for some additional training at Canmiers, France.  Therefore, a leave pass to visit Liverpool in late January or early February 1917 as noted in this letter is quite possible.  Pte. Mercer entered the front lines on the Western Front on Wednesday April 24, 1917 as part of the Motor Machine Gun Pool.  It was from this "pool" of new recruits that the respective units drew replacements.  He would be attached to the Borden Motor Machine Gun Battery, whereas, his best friend Pte. Tom Tracy would be assigned to the Yukon Motor Machine Gun Battery.
[64]  "C.O." represents Commanding Officer.
[65]  British officers had to reflect "good breeding" and manners of a gentleman to distinguish them from the 'OR s' or Other Ranks.
[66]  At present this specific British military unit and its location has not be identified.
[67]  Cpl. Alan Emery is probably indirectly referring to the fact on April 6, 1917 the U.S. declared war on Germany.  On May 18 the United States Congress passed the Selective Service Act which called for drafting 500,000 men between the ages of 19 and 25  to serve for the duration of the war.
[68]  The "allotment" refers to the number of men per unit granted annual leave to return to either Blighty (England) or Paris, France.  Most men were sent back to England as Paris was considered too cosmopolitan for the regular soldiers.
[69]  "Uncle Will" is William the father of Pte. Richard Wm. Mercer.  Uncle Raymond Emery, brother of Georgina Mercer is a retired Colour Sargent with "D" Company of the 2nd V.Bn. N.S. Reg. in England.  He retired after 25 years of military service in 1908 and his military records still need to be researched.  He lived in Yorkton, Saskatchewan from about 1908.  Family notes suggest he was a tailor and may have been buried at a cemetery in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Canada.  More research on Raymond Emery is still required.